Southern Spotlight: But I’d Rather Take the Butcher’s Word

James Banahan

James Banahan

I had to take my daughter to the doctor the other day.  The office call was $65    —just to hear that she was okay, too.

I have to admit that I balk at that number.  $65 is a lot of money, right?  I can imagine many other things I might hope to do with that kind of cash.  But.  In the end, I was actually quite happy to pay it, because ultimately I was paying for the doctor’s expert care and guidance in a situation in which I’m a little lost.

Sure, I know the basics of a sick child: check for a fever, give Tylenol, make sure she sleeps, make sure she eats, make sure she drinks a lot.  But I haven’t had the training and continued education that a doctor has.  I’m not continually going to seminars (despite what you might think or hear) and reading up on the latest technologies and treatments for whatever symptoms she might have.  And when my kid gets sick, that’s what I want—the trained expert taking care of her.  That’s what makes the $65 worth it.

The relationship that a grower has with his Field Sales Agronomist isn’t entirely different from the one that you have with a doctor.  Like a doctor, who is a trained expert in medicine, your FSA is a trained expert in crop care and production.  You are too to a certain extent—you’ve got years of experience under your belt, years to witness what works and what doesn’t—and your expertise serves you well.  You know the basics of crop production, what some symptoms of disease and distress look like, and maybe even how to treat them.  Your FSA has similar experience and knowledge, but has also had the education and specialized training to tackle the high level stuff—things like the synergies between crop protection and crop production and how fertilizer is utilized and distributed within plants.

Your FSA doesn’t cost $65 an acre though.  Nor should he.  (Though if you’re thinking that $65 sounds a fair deal—my contact info is below and you may call me day or night.)

My point is this: like a doctor adds value to your life by helping you address concerns and situations outside of your realm of expertise and comfort, so does your FSA (or should your FSA).  Focusing on the $65 bill for the office visit—the cost—obscures that value in an unhelpful way.

And it’s even easier to focus on cost when dealing with someone like your FSA, who isn’t a doctor but is a “salesman.”  When we deal with salesmen, we all, myself most definitely included, tend to focus on cost over value.  We focus on the price of the commodity that they’re selling and totally miss the service and value they bring to the table.

The question in my mind, whether we’re dealing with a doctor, a salesman, a realtor, a hair dresser—whomever—the question is what does cost matter in light of results?  In my own experience with such people and others, I’d probably rank cost 4th or so on my list of concerns when I know I’m being taken care of and served in an effective and fair manner.  Does that mean I’m whistling a happy tune when I pay the cost for their service?  Not exactly.  But the recent visit to the doctor was a reminder to me that I often am looking at the wrong side of the equation, because at the end of the day, what matters is not the cost at all, but the value the purchase brings to my life.